spirituality

Trauma? Not Me.

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Recently, I watched a presentation on mental health. The moderators talked about veterans and trauma. They shared what trauma is and how we experience it. The panel also talked about how veterans’ families endure along with the family members who are experiencing trauma. They explained that the mind can be injured and when this happens, the whole body suffers. We can experience an array of ailments as a result of trauma. As the panelists continued to outline what can cause trauma, I started to think about my life and the impact of living through this pandemic. If you are like me, we believe that we are strong. Maybe because we are and have been able to ‘take it’ despite obstacles. But now, people like us need to take a step back and recognize that we are not rocks, we are people and we can only ‘take’ so much.

Trauma is defined as is any type of distressing event or experience that can have an impact on a person’s ability to cope and function. Trauma can result in emotional, physical, and psychological harm. Verywellmind.com

As I listened to the stories and experiences of the speakers in this webinar, I started to search myself. Have I failed to acknowledge and bring closure to experiences within my life which caused distress. My mind went back to when I was forced to leave my neighborhood elementary school because of mandatory integration. I remember with such clarity how alone and abandoned, I felt. No one asked us kids what we wanted. We wouldn’t have understood the reasoning anyway. I remember the television cameras waiting as we arrived at the school and thinking, this is what the animals must feel like in the zoo. I experienced trauma. Part of the healing came when I rejoined my friends in high school but I have never fully digested this experience. I wonder how unnoticed, the pain has manifested throughout my life.

Have you taken an opportunity to discuss our feelings with anyone?

Last year around this time, a virus began to sweep through the world and was on its way to the Unites States. I remember how I believed we were safe, I was safe. I listened to the news reports and there seemed to be little reason for concern. Maybe the mixed messages gave me an opportunity to stay in denial longer. I paid little attention really until the day I was directed to send my employees home. The country was shutting down and I quickly learned what the definition was of a nonessential worker. I naively told my employees to take enough work home for about 2 weeks. They have been working remotely for over a year. We have experienced trauma.

As a nation, we are approaching 600,000 people who have passed away from the COVID19 virus. I know numerous families who have lost love one’s. Some have lost multiple family members. I do not fully understand the toll this pandemic has taken on our children or our society but I can see its impact on me. My blood pressure is high. My concentration is challenged and I am feeling that I need to pay more attention to living a full life. Why was society denied the truth about this virus? Why were we told, if we shut the country down for a few weeks that we would ‘get back to normal.’ This was not true. This has been a catastrophe. We will never get back to normal. We are not the same. There is a ‘new normal’ emerging that includes plexiglass, face masks, and social distancing.

They explained that the mind can be injured and when this happens, the whole body suffers.

We need to talk about this. If we fail to embrace the need to share our feelings of loss and grief then this pandemic will be in control of our future causing even more trauma. So, let me be the first to admit that I did not see this coming. I am angry that our political leaders put politics above public safety. Because of the lack of honesty, the remedy came in the vaccine after hundreds of thousands of people died. Can we ever trust the political system again? I can’t answer this but we must trust the science. This I know for sure. .

We need one another which is the irony. Despite believing in our individual uniqueness, I also embrace what makes us special is based on the community. At this intersection we can become callus because hurting people hurt people. But we also have a choice to be filled with love and compassion. We still have more to endure but I will offer a solution; relationship. We share this journey. Let’s heal together. I feel better knowing compassion is an option on the table. How about you?

spirituality

Filling in the abyss.

Abyss: a wide or profound difference between people.

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We are living at a time in history when the extremes are clear, the outer rims. Some human beings are filled with boundless compassion and others are overflowing with hatred. We see contradictions from watching our Legislators debate on the chamber floors to listening to impassioned monologues on the television news shows. There seems to be no grey area, no safety zone or middle ground within which we as a society can move forward in peace. Even religion seems to have joined in the fray, leaving some with no place of refuge. When I turned on the television, there were memorials recognizing the anniversary of the death of Brianna Taylor. A $27 million settlement had been awarded to the family of Mr. George Floyd. And, the economic stimulus checks of $1400 were starting to arrive. What an array of emotions and points of discussion. As I read the news streams, a Washington Post article entitled, The Pressure to Reform the Filibuster is Already Working captured my attention. It confirmed my contemplation regarding the political abyss that now exists. The author writes,“ in his speech, McConnell offered another threat: If Democrats reform the filibuster so they can pass their agenda, when Republicans retake power they’ll do the same. The pendulum “would swing hard,” he said, adding that Republicans would pass “all kinds of conservative policies” with “zero input from the other side.” He mentioned a national right-to-work law and defunding Planned Parenthood as reasons for Democrats to fear.” Why does it seem that society is trying to pick up where it left off? We have suffered together as human beings for a year. We have been surrounded in an ocean of grief and loss. Is there nothing that will break open the hard hearts of humanity to see the divine potential that is waiting to be released from within? As a spiritual person, it gives me pause. Could there be a force at work in the universe who hates so much that it will always manipulate humanity to be at odds and to destroy itself? I reject this thought before I become despondent because we are not pawns. The problem is the lack of knowledge of who we are as individuals and why we were born. We are divine beings. We are alive to give and receive love. We just don’t collectively know it, yet.

Ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7.

Faith not Fear

I was raised in a strong Pentecostal environment. As I became of age, I began to explore my beliefs. I found what resonated with me was being a part of the faith movement that supported love, peace, the right of self-determination. When we are searching for truth, it always seems to be far away. Even today, we see so much violence and discounting of life that we may be missing the many loving and caring people who come to the rescue. They are lights at the end of the tunnel. These lights give me hope. We are standing at a cross road. I believe COVID has given us a window through which to look at ourselves and get clarity. We can continue on this current path, fighting over our differences or we can fill the abyss in our hearts with what we have in common and build on a foundation of peace. I hear the cynics. No, I am not advocating for a utopia just a taste of heaven.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” Marianne Williamson writes in A Return to Love. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

We are being given the opportunity to evolve. It is hard. Mankind is very much like my ten year old; a child struggling with the weight of responsibility. Desiring to be independent one minute and then throwing a temper tantrum when unable to handle it. We may feel as a society like we can be independent of one another but in reality we need each other. We get frustrated because we don’t know how to listen and care about what doesn’t seemingly effect us directly. We think we know more than we really do about life. We are loving one minute and then disrespectful to each other the next. We are facing challenges but instead of running away from this moment, I am pressing into it with grace to fill the emptiness with kindness. What about you, coming?

Fill the abyss with compassion

We are getting close to the other side of this pandemic. Vaccines are being more widely distributed. Schools are reopening. We will be able to travel again soon. Birthday parties will resume along with anniversaries and weddings. These thoughts make me smile. We are so close. Soon we will be able to return to some semblance of normality. We have to stay the course and move forward. There has been so much loss. Surely we will all need therapy; few in history will have had our shared experience. Society may believe that it will resume with the people being the same. The question is how will we be different? How have we been effected by this unimaginable experience. We cannot go backwards. We must not shrink back into the known but grow up and break through the darkness into our true selves. We have the opportunity to stretch ourselves and bring healing to this moment. I am part of a growing movement challenging us to be compassionate and to fill the emptiness of our lives with love and gratitude. I love the thought of it. Imagine a world where we are engulfed in an endless, immeasurable, ocean of kindness. Take a deep breath, breathe in that thought, and exhale the doubt. I will let you in on a secret. If humanity was a cookie then the challenges and struggles would be the hard outer crust but we are the delicious much anticipated filling.

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spirituality

Who do you follow, now?

On January 6, 2021, there was an attack on the United States Capital. I watched very angry people press past security guards and police through partitions and barricades to reach the Legislative chambers. They destroyed, stole, and killed 4 people. It was an incredible moment. I listened to newscasters search for the words, it became clear at least to me that this was a media event that few had ever seen. The limited police presence, the lack of preparation was in stark contrast to marches in the sixties for civil rights or against the war in Vietnam where protestors were beaten back or arrested in large quantities.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/01/14/prophets-apostles-chtian-prophesy-trump-won-biden-capitol/

There is an article in the Washington Post entitled, For some Christians, the Capitol riot doesn’t change the prophecy: Trump will be president. It is informative and speaks to this discussion. After reading it, I felt a sadness because a segment of our society seems to have been taught a faith that encroaches on politics. This belief intermingled with social fears and fables emboldened people to break the law, steal, and kill. I expect politicians to fan the flames of participation in their constituents but I don’t expect those engaged to be groups filled with such hatred. Even more troubling in this evolving story are the spiritual leaders who aligned themselves with this belief of a kind of ‘government take-over for God’. I am trying to understand how I as a Christ follower can see his teachings so very differently. To sound a bit preachy, I believe Jesus came to serve not to be served. There is a passage in the Book of John in which he writes, “The thief comes only to steal and to kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (St. John 10:10).” The actions that we saw on January 6, 2021 in Washington D.C. were not representative of Christians but history may disagree with me. It would be wrong…right? (SMILE)

We need life to have meaning

There is a virtue within human beings; we need life to have meaning. Life should have meaning. When truth is unclear and difficult to understand but fallacy is clear and easily believed then we as a society can’t find meaning in life, there is an emptiness inside. The gentle wise charismatic leader will call us members of society to action on one another’s behalf. People such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and President John F Kennedy were able to harness this meaning, using it to lift the American society to make incredible achievements. However cult leaders like the one’s in Waco, Texas and Jonestown, Guyana were responsible for leading hundreds of people to their deaths with failed self-serving beliefs.

Hate is not a new social phenomenon. It has existed since Cain killed Able out of jealousy. Many have died because of hate. History has shown us that simple-minded people can become filled with a complex unexplainable hatred because a narcissistic leader gave them a sense of belonging and spoke to their fears. These beliefs become even more entrenched when they are aligned with a faith. I ponder as the truth begins to come out, will the faithful see that hate needed pawns in its effort to seize power? In light of everything that has happened over these last several weeks, are they asking themselves, who will we follow, now?

At the end of the day, I see this insurgency as one motivated by the overreaching social construct; some people are leaders but most of us are followers. Cunning leaders recognized the power in giving people something to believe in no matter how self-destructive it may have been. They understood the need for people to belong to something, anything, greater than themselves and that it filled a void in the human spirit. Of course, I argue that we are all significant as uniquely divine creations and are full of purpose and destiny but when evil intentions align with this need to believe in something and belong, it often leads to devastating results, as we have seen again.

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Love is always the answer

I believe love is light, light is truth, truth is love and love is the most powerful force in the universe. Maybe this is why love seems to always be under siege, fighting to take control. Love is patient because it has no time constraints; it is eternal. There are teachers like Confucius who challenge us to put our neighbor above ourselves. Christ teaches us this as well. Having a purpose to give in life is a compass that guides us along our journey. It is sad when individuals have no inner compass but rely solely on following external voices. It must be a scary and frustrating lifestyle. It is a blessing to embrace your uniqueness in this world and to be empowered to share who you are with your community, to enrich everyone around you. My prayer for all is that our hungry and thirsty souls will encounter true spiritual teachings that will give us not only guidance but wisdom to live in community with our neighbors. I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Who gives you inner guidance? When in doubt, pursue love. It never fails.